Site Specific Sculpture (200 oak trees, documents, maps, GPS record)
2013 - present
akin is a long-term, large scale, participatory, public artwork in which oak trees are to be planted across the region of Fife, in Scotland, to create a ‘future forest’. Beyond the environmental and well-being implications of creating a forest of the future, the more immediate and direct intention of creating a symbolic, dispersed woodland is to engage communities in individual acts of nurture and stewardship, in a collective act of empowerment, commitment and sustainability.
Two hundred oak trees, grown and nurtured, by me, from acorns originally gathered in Fife, are to be re-planted across the region. The acorns were collected and planted in 2013 and the resulting oak trees are now 9 yrs old. These trees will be gifted by me to 200 individuals, families, community groups, institutions and businesses across Fife who will then undertake the planting and care of these trees in the gardens, parks, common lands and green spaces of the Kingdom, engaging in a physical and symbolic cycle of participation, nurture, growth and renewal. The exponential effect of planting 200 oaks is clear, even in a slow maturing species like the oak. In 100 years the 200 trees should have produced over 40,000 new oak trees - thus, the initially dispersed woodland of individual tress, becomes the future forest.
"They (trees) connect us to others, whether contemporaries or those in the past or future. If you plant a sapling that may take 200 years to reach its full stature, you are pledging faith in the future and offering a gift to the generations yet to be born. That’s a pretty good feeling."
Fiona Stafford - The Long, Long Life of Trees
Forests occupy an important place in our collective psyche. The mystery and enchantment of the woods is deeply embedded in our imagination and culture - from ancient folklore to modern literature. Forests are places of magic and fear, shadows and shelters, exploration and adventure, hiding and seeking, getting lost and being found. Almost all of us have had a tree in our past that has shaped us in some way. Perhaps it was a place we played or met, or climbed or fell. Perhaps a place we hid. Perhaps we laid a pet to rest or kissed beneath a bough. Each tree provides a meter, a measure of a life lived or a marker of a life remembered. Each tree also, in its casting off of leaves in autumn and sprouting of new buds in spring, provides a tangible, annual cycle of life, death and rebirth that profoundly shapes our concept of time.
"I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time. The oak is especially so because it is a slowly growing tree with a kind of really solid heartwood. It has always been a form of sculpture, a symbol for this planet."
Richrard Demarco - Conversations with Artists
The oak family has graced our planet for a remarkable 65 million years and is one of its most ancient species. Oaks once formed a third of all tree cover in Britain and it is the most iconic of Britain’s native trees - an enduring symbol of longevity, strength and dignity. Over the past 4000 years we have steady cleared our forests for habitation, industry and war. The UK has been particularly remiss at replenishing it's stock and today the woodland to landmass balance is just 13% compared to the European average of 37%. In Scotland, native woodland, like oak, covers just 4% of the total land area. Trees are at the frontline of the climate battle as we meet the reality of worsening storms, droughts and floods. Trees prevent soil erosion and desertification, reduce flooding, have a cooling effect, create oxygen, store carbon and provide essential habit for many of the species with whom we share this planet. Indeed, a single oak can support up to 2300 other species.
The word, ‘akin’, which gives it's name to this project, is an old Scots word meaning, 'consisting of oaks'. In English, the word has come to mean, related, similar, compatible, or of the same family. akin is a work consisting of oaks connected through time, hope and imagination in a concept of connection, care, and continuity.
If you like what you have read here about akin and would like to contribute to the projects realisation you can also support it directly by making a donation through ko-fi using the link below. ko-fi takes no commission or fee and all donations will be used to fund akin.